5 Impactful Words for Your Fundraising Appeals (with Examples)

Nonprofit fundraising statistics across all categories reflect that most nonprofits routinely leave much potential revenue on the table. Data from the updated marketing stats for 2021 reveal that nonprofits send an average of two print newsletters and three print donation appeals per year. And organizations dissatisfied with their marketing results typically produce fewer pieces of digital content overall.

So is writing compelling appeals for your fundraising campaigns that difficult? Guess not! Tweaking your copy and including the following few action-packed words can set you up for success.

It all starts with YOU.

A good donor-centric appeal should pull your readers into the action and make an instant connection. You can personalize your ask by speaking to the donor directly. Make use of the most powerful word in the English language – YOU.

Personalizing your copy not only helps you to strengthen relationships with your donors but also:

  • Grabs their attention
  • Tips them towards seeing your request in a positive light
  • Shows your donors how to be the best version of themselves

The key is to use personalization to tie fulfilling your NPO’s mission to your donor’s actions. Read more about why you should try writing in the second person.


Instead of “we pledge against hunger,”

say, “You can help us pledge against hunger.

Helping donors to be the best version of themselves.

BECAUSE we rely on logic

Sonia Simone, a founding partner of Copyblogger Media, quotes, “Your readers are not dumb; they are distracted.” They have endless things to process besides trying to decode your appeal. So make sure you give them a reason why they need to donate. As humans, we often comply with requests if an explanation follows them. Our brain is wired to look beyond ‘because’ and pay attention to the reason.

We need to reiterate the famous Harvard Magazine report asking participants to cut in line to make copies at a copy machine.

First, the participant asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the copy machine?” Thirty percent of people allowed them to cut the line.

The second time, the participant said, “Excuse me. I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I am in a rush?” Ninety-four percent of people let him go first.

SMALL means a whole lot! 

Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, explores scientific research on what leads people to say YES to requests. He examined the donation process for the American Cancer Society, where appeals were made in a door-to-door solicitation.

One group of prospective donors were asked, “Would you be willing to help by donating?” Another group was asked, “Would you be willing to help by donating? Every penny will help.”

Participants from group two were almost twice as likely to donate. So while most people think that words like ‘every bit is helpful’, does not make a difference, new research shows that adding a minimal parameter to the gift solicitation delivers dramatically different results. Words such as ‘small’ demonstrate little contribution and make the donors feel that the appeal is reasonable and negligible.

Making a small ask to create a big impact

INSTANTLY is a magic word

One of the hacks for increased conversions of donors is using the words “instantly” or “immediately.” Digital marketers have found this technique extremely useful to drive sales, and fundraising is no different.

Gregory Ciotti, author of 10 Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology, mentions that the idea of receiving something right away lights up our midbrain. In other words, instant gratification makes us feel good and satisfied.

Emphasizing donors to take action right away, followed by showing them instant gratification through your actions (such as social proof or thank you letters), is a great way to win their trust.

Power of words to show instant gratification

We need your Support.

Research shows that the mention of the word “support” in your call-to-action increases your donation rate by 16% per page view. Research also shows that adding a photo helps to grab donor attention better. So instead of simply saying ‘donate,’ replace it with the word ‘support’ followed by the name of your campaign.

Donation appeals and fundraising campaigns are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization. The words you choose for your ask can make or break your campaign and impact your mission and its objective. Hopeful collaborates with you on your fundraising campaigns. It helps you lift the bar to build meaningful relationships with your donors, run sustainable campaigns and most importantly, raise funds on social. Interested in learning more about how we can add value? Get in touch with us today!

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